Sunday, November 04, 2007

Honey, I'm home

We arrived home yesterday after an exhausting 3 week trip. It was another incredible trip full of wonderful highlights each one as magnificent as the other. We spent 10 days in Sicily going to the places we missed on our first trip in March this year. Even so, we still missed seeing Segeste. It rained every day except the last day, some days we were soaked through but our intrepid souls refused to let us give up. Heck, we spent a lot of hard earned dollars and made that hard trek to get over there. It was a hard trip, physically, trying to find our way around with only information from some guide books in 2 countries for which we had no working knowledge of the language, hauling our luggage on cobbled stones, up and down trains and metro stations, getting lost, asking unhelpful residents and the list goes on but it was still well worth making that stupendous effort. I'd do it again (which I am) and again, the alternative is staying at home and be an armchair traveler (not for me).
The trip wasn't as smooth as expected, I did screw up on some travel arrangements, Roussillon, which I thought was possible to be visited by train was not to be, at the spur of the moment (at the very busy and confusing train station at Part Dieu, Lyon, we changed plans and headed for Avignon 2 days ahead of our schedule, cancelled the stay at Roussillon and visited using an excursion company. Our excursion van was broken into, all of us (except moi) left our purses in the locked van which was broken into, the passenger side window smashed in. Only the purse of the driver was taken and my coat. She said I could leave my stuff next to hers in the front seat. I never let go of my stuff, it's always hanging around my neck, I figure if anyone takes my things they have to take me also. We were close by and heard the commotion which was a good thing. They didn't have enough time to ransack the whole van. The tour guide should know better than to let us leave our stuff in the van. Thank God, we felt the prayers of our families throughout the trip and I've been praying way before the trip and during the trip. I never leave anything to chance, I'm always praying and thank God, anything worse than that did not happen. We were lost in a little village of Erice because of pelting rain and fog, we couldn't see our way and was literally going around in circles before finding a guy in a fancy BMW who got us into his car and drove us to the bus stop, we were soaking wet.
The weather was dry in our France part of the adventure, in fact, in Provence, it was warm. Paris wasn't cold yet either, very nice. It was packed with tourists, even at this time of the year. Every famous monument had long lines but we managed. We had to fly the very rude Air France. While I know that Singapore Airlines is the best, I've never flown it but Lufthansa and British Air, both of which I've flown in are a close second. They all have better service because their in flight crew are friendlier, not the Air France people, they're downright rude. I'll try to avoid them in future.
France, I must say, is impressive because of their transportation system, the train service is nothing like you've ever seen in this world, truly a technological marvel. You've got to go there and take advantage of it, get past their rudeness, be persistent in trying to get the information you need. Disarm their attitude by smiling and greeting them first, it's hard when you're tired and confused, but try to do it anyway. Learn a few French words and phrases, enough to get by.
I must have taken at least 800 photos, filling my 2 x 2gb memory card, 2 power packs, I had to recharge once, I brought a transformer with me and adaptable plugs. Sophie was recharging every night, she only brought 1 battery pack with her. You need 2 at least and at least 4 gb of memory, either in one card or in 2 cards. Sophie took so many pictures, she needed 6gb. The pictures are priceless, I don't want to redo the trip just to redo the pictures. I've downloaded all of them into my computer and over the next few months will put them in my blog and write about this trip. I'm having jet lag, it will take me at least 10 days to get back into my normal rhythm, I woke up at 1 am this morning.
These pictures were taken at the coffee shop at Musee d'orsay on our last day in Paris. It is a gorgeous museum if only just to see the Impressionists. I visited it 7 years ago but seeing it again renewed my love for it. At the start of the trip, the pie is whole and beautiful and with each passing day we chip away (eat) a part of it until we completely consumed the whole slice and the ending is just as beautiful.


Gawpo said...

Yeah, hey! How about that RAIN in Sicily!!!!

My GAWD. We got out of the car to go into the cemetery at Camporeale to see our ancestors' graves and WHAM-WHOOSH----we lasted all of two minutes. The floodgates opened and we beat feet to the Bar in town where I was GIVEN ("Regalo!") a little espresso cup after I asked to purchase one.

Theresa maggio said...

Hi Anne,
you are a brave, insightful, gutsy, informed traveler with the right attitude. Thanks for showing me again some of my favorite spots in Palermo and some new places! Theresa Maggio

annechung said...

Thanks, Theresa, are you who I think you are? Author of La Mattanza and The Stone Boudoir? Oh my God, what an incredible compliment, wow, I've both your books and read them many times before I even went to Sicily. You inspired me. I'm blushing, wow, a compliment from an accomplished author. You are gutsy to have gone from Paris to Sicily by train.